In first remarks on Hyperloop, Ajit Pawar hits pause on futuristic project
Ajit Pawar, who handles the government’s purse strings as the state’s finance minister, expressed reservations about the project after a review meeting on Friday.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Friday signalled that his government could go slow on the Rs 70,000 crore Hyperloop project that is targeted to cut down commute time between the state’s two cities 140 km apart - Mumbai and Pune - down to 25 minutes.
Pawar, who handles the government’s purse strings as the state’s finance minister, expressed reservations about the project after a review meeting on Friday.
Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis - who was also briefly Ajit Pawar’s boss when they made an aborted bid to form the government - had last year declared that Maharashtra would create the first hyperloop transportation system in the world.
Fadnavis had also given the project the status of a “basic infrastructure project” in August last year to make it easier to acquire land. But the land acquisition process has been facing resistance from farmers. The first stage is a 11.8-km demonstration track between Gahunje and Urse village alongside the Pune-Mumbai expressway on Pune’s outskirts.
“Let it happen somewhere else. Let it become successful for at least a 10 km distance somewhere abroad,” Ajit Pawar told reporters, according to news agency Press Trust of India.
That didn’t mean, he clarified, he wanted it scrapped.
“We do not have the capacity to experiment with Hyperloop. We will concentrate on other modes of transport and in the meantime, if that technology develops more with successful trials abroad, we can think about it,” he said.
That line echoes the many statements that Ajit Pawar and other Congress leaders such as Prithviraj Chavan had made in the run-up to the elections.
Elon Musk had spoken about the Hyperloop technology back in 2013 that would let people travel in a pod-like vehicle that would move through a tube at a faster speed than most commercial airline planes.
Virgin Hyperloop One, the company that signed a framework pact with Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA) in 2018, had claimed the hyperloop would be able to move 10,000 passengers an hour and 150 million passengers a year once fully operational.